Tag Archives: Medway

Scholars’ Spotlight: Zaneta Balsevic

Continuing the series profiling Music Scholarship students at the University of Kent. This week, first-year studying Music, Zaneta Balsevic.

My interest in music was well established from the age of 11. This interest came during a local school concert where I saw a group of string players perform. This had an immediate impact on me and soon after I convinced my parents to register me for the local music school, which became my daily passion. I began to appreciate the power and meaning that music has as well as develop my performance skills on the violin. In my native country, Lithuania, I studied in a music school for four years before moving to the UK. There, I was part of a string ensemble, with whom we performed regularly in music school concerts as well as national festivals. A year later, I became part of a piano trio and in 2010 we won 2nd place in the Third Annual Dainius Trinkunas Junior Chamber Music Festival at the Lithuanian National Academy of Music and Theatre. We also performed in numerous other competitions and concerts.

zaneta-bAs I grew older, I became increasingly captivated by my instrument. I have learnt that a successful performance requires many challenges to be overcome such as gaining high self-confidence and learning to communicate musically with the audience.

Since I moved to the UK in 2012, my goal has been tightly focused; to study music at a highly respected music institution. I believed that a conservatoire education would enable me to become a successful professional violinist. I also believed it is a great place to meet like-minded musicians and develop ensemble skills through playing in chamber ensembles and orchestras. This motivated me to prepare for an audition and as a result I gained place to study Violin Performance at Trinity Laban Conservatoire. Yet, I soon realised that university is a more suitable place for me as a musician and a student. I believe that having gained an academic degree it would enable me to be more flexible with regards to my career options, while being part of orchestra and chamber groups, therefore helping me to developing equally as a student and a musician.

I was a member of the Musica Nova Academy, where I participated in various concerts often taking place in St. Steven’s Church and the Rossotrudnichestvo Centre in Kensington. For a year, I have been a part of trio ensemble in my music school. With the trio, we have performed a tango piece Primavera Portena and Ave Maria by Astor Piazzolla. This is also when I passed my grade 8 in violin with distinction.

One of my greatest performance experiences was at the international music competition in Bulgaria ‘Zvezdna Dga’ where I performed Tchaikovsky’s Melodie. I was awarded first place in the category of solo classical performance. This experience helped me to overcome my greatest fears and to realise the importance of the performer as a communicator who isn’t afraid to imprint their own interpretation of the music that they play.

In addition to playing at ‘Music Nova’ I have also fully supported my secondary school music department in many ways. I was a member of the school Orchestra and I also lead the string orchestra and played in the band for a musical last year. In addition to this, I led a sectional of 60 primary school students in the school’s annual ‘Primary School Choral and Orchestral Day’. I believe that working with less-experienced musicians has helped to strengthen my communication, leadership and social skills and I enjoyed acting as a musical role model for younger musicians in the school.

I have greatly enjoyed participation in a music competition ‘Stars of the Albion’ in February 2014 and have won a second place in the category of solo violin classical music.

Visiting the University of Kent, I was astonished by this beautiful place, course, and people. This led to a decision to study here. Currently, I participate in University Choir and Orchestra (Medway), Chamber Music Forum and City of Rochester Symphony Orchestra.

Ceremony to recognise outstanding contributions to University music

At this time of the year, as the academic year draws to a close, the University takes the opportunity to recognise the contributions to its musical life from a few outstanding students. At a ceremony last Friday, five students were awarded prizes in honour of their efforts.

Presented by Kerry Barber on behalf of the Canterbury Festival, the Canterbury Festival Prize, which is awarded to a final-year student who has made an outstanding contribution, was awarded to Kathryn Redgers. In her last year studying History,and a University Music Scholar, Kathryn has played principal flute (and piccolo) in the University Symphony Orchestra and Concert Band; she also appeared as soloist in part of Mozart’s Flute & Harp Concerto with the Camerata in a lunchtime concert, and this year has been President of Music Society.

The Colyer-Fergusson Prize, which is awarded to a student who has made an outstanding contribution to organising music-making at Kent, was presented by the Hon Jonathan Monckton, Chair of the Colyer-Fergusson Charitable Trust, to Aisha Bové. A final-year student, studying English & American Literature and English Language & Linguistics, Aisha has worked tirelessly on behalf of music throughout her time here, including being Orchestral representative in her second year and Secretary of the Music Society in this, her final year. She is also Principal cello in the Symphony Orchestra and plays in the String Sinfonia, String Quartet, and sings in the Cecilian Choir. The award is in recognition of her all-round behind-the-scenes organising and administrative skills.

Emma Murton receives her prize from Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Keith Mander
Emma Murton receives her prize from Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Keith Mander

The University Music Prize, for a returning student who has make a major contribution to music at Kent, was awarded jointly to Emma Murton and Steph Richardson. Emma is in her second year studying Drama, and a University Music Scholar; this year, she has been the student conductor of the Chamber Choir, singer in Chamber Choir and Chorus, harpist in Symphony Orchestra and soloist in Britten’s Ceremony of Carols and part of Mozart’s Flute & Harp Concerto in lunchtime concerts.

Steph, also studying Drama, in her third year, is also a University Music Scholar, and has provided the professional polish as the singer with the University Big Band; she also sings in Chamber Choir, conducts Sing!, and has this year formed vocal trio ‘The Canterberries’ which has sung at informal lunchtime concerts, as well as being the vocal coach for the Musical Theatre Society’s production of Rent last term.

The final prize, the University Music Awards Committee Prize, given to a student who has made a special contribution to music at Kent, was awarded to the indefatiguable Jack McDonnell. In his final year studying Music Technology, it’s no exaggeration to say that Jack has revolutionised the musical life of the Medway campus, in his role as this year’s President of the Medway Music Society and Secretary last year, including setting up regular performing nights at Coopers (the campus bar), organising events, arranging deals for music students with shops in the town, and generally raising the profile of music at Medway.

Jack Mcdonnell (l), Steph Richardson, Aisha Bove with Keith Mander, Jonathan Monckton and Kerry of Canterbury Festival
Jack Mcdonnell (l), Steph Richardson, Kathryn Redgers and Aisha Bové with Professor Keith Mander, the Hon Jonathan Monckton and Kerry Barber of Canterbury Festival

(Alas, such is her diligence, Emma couldn’t stay until the end of the ceremony, as she had to dash back to her job!)

The Music Awards Committee has a difficult decision to make each year, a task made almost impossible in the face of the large numbers of students who participate regularly, and with such vibrant enthusiasm, in all the music-making that goes on at the University. But it’s a chance for us to pay especial tribute to a few who have made a significant impact through their involvement in the musical life of the University, and our thanks and congratulations to them.

Making waves at Medway: the Medway Chamber Choir

President of this year’s Medway Music Society, Jack McDonnell, reports in with news of a new musical initiative at Medway this year…


Under the management of 2nd year Popular Music Student Rhian Powell with the UMSA Music Society, Universities at Medway Chamber choir are back in full swing of rehearsals for a string of upcoming performances.

On Tuesday 13th of November, the choir took part in an evening of a pilot filming for a TV show called ‘The Venue’ at the Beacon Court Tavern in Gillingham (see picture, below). The Choir performed an arrangement of popular carol “Ding Dong Merrily on High” as well as the national anthem to an audience of film makers and Medway Locals which were well received by Director Lee Philips. The film is due to go online at the beginning of December.

The Medway Chamber Choir

UMCC are currently meeting on Monday evenings at 6pm in the Medway Building Studios, working towards the UMSA Carol Service on December 3rd.

Jack McDonnell

Good luck to our counterparts over in Medway – let us know when the film goes online!

Making waves at Medway: meet the new Music Society Committee

This year’s new trio at the helm of the Medway Music Society are feeling very pleased with themselves already; meeting them in the third week of the new academic year, membership is already up on last year’s total.

The man in charge this year is Jack McDonnell, who assumes the Presidency after being Vice-President last year. Vice-President for 2012-13 is Garrick Wareham, and Treasurer is Joe Tinker.

(l-r): Garrick Wareham, Jack McDonnell, Joe Tinker

The trio have once again set the musical life of the Medway campus rolling in continuing their highly successful Tuesday night Band Night and Rockaoke sessions, both of which were instigated last year and continue to attract crowds to Coopers on Tuesday nights. They’ve also set up special deals for Medway’s burgeoning Music Society members with music stores in town, and are hinting at some exciting new projects in collaboration with other societies at the campus that could lead to some large-scale projects in the year ahead.

“We were all over Freshers’ Week,” declares Jack decisively over lunch at the No.1 Cafe, “but there’s still more we can do. With the new BMus course that’s started here at Medway, there’s a bunch of new students we can get involved in the Society. We’ve already got more paid-up members than we had last year; and we want to get them all into Coopers!”

Garrick, meanwhile, is busy co-ordinating the return of the Medway Big Band which, he says enthusiastically, “we’re re-christening the Medway Jazz-Funk Band, which is the new direction we want to go.”

This year, Rockaoke starts next Tuesday from 8pm in Coopers; there’s also the launch of the Universities at Medway String Group, Big Band and Chamber Choir this term. The Society is now taking signups for Battle of the Bands which starts next month, and there’s even a Pub Golf social coming up! Get in touch with them via e-mail.

The Society has an active Facebook page and lively presence on Twitter, and looks set to continue developing the musical life at Medway. Keep an eye out; there’s plenty of exciting times ahead…

Congratulations to the Medway Music Society!

Congratulations to our brothers and sisters over on the Medway campus, who won ‘Society of the Year’ and ‘Most Improved Society’ for the Medway Music Society at the UMSA awards ceremony at the King Charles Hotel last night.

Vice-President and Secretary, Jack McDonnell won Personality of the Year, whilst President this year Ethan Sacre picked up the award for ‘Outstanding Contribution.’

This is some well-deserved recognition for all the hard work the trio of Executives (together with Secretary, Clive Berry) has done to create a vibrant musical society life on the Medway campus, with band nights, competitions, links with local music businesses and charity fund-raising. As anyone who’s followed their activities on Facebook and their blog will know, it’s been a buzzing year both for musical activities as well as other society life on the Medway campus.

Hats off to the team; what will next year bring, I wonder.

Making waves at Medway: Defunk’d

Causing a (musical) riot this year at the Medway campus is Defunk’d, a six-piece band hailing from Gillingham, Kent, which features two of this year’s Music Scholarship Students, Rob Mayzes (bass) and Jack Tann (drums).

The group originally started as a jamming band formed by students studying Music Technology at the Medway campus, but soon very quickly discovered it had a lot of local interest in its music after its first gig.

Following their success in winning Battle of the Bands 2012, they have started played numerous gigs around the local area, with the student bar ‘Coopers’  at Medway being its regular outlet.

The band is in the process of making some studio recordings, and will be working on some more original material for future gigs.

You can also hear some of the band’s recent recordings on their Facebook page here.

Keep an ear out for them on the Medway scene…